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Old 9th July 2005, 23:19   #1
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Default How VFM is the Tata Indica?

Sort of a controversial subject. Two reasons why: 1). You see a million of them on the road probably everyday, so there are a lot of people who swear by it.
2). I usually have an enthusiastic, not so practical approach when it comes to cars.

But I am going to give it a go anyway.

Today, morning my father and I decided to head to the nearest Tata dealer. My father is looking for a car to buy, he also needs a diesel, which needs to be a B-segmenter because he isn't willing to spend too much on a car. Oil burners are non-existant in this particular segment, except for two. The Tata Indica and the Palio 1.9D. My father is not going to put any moolah in the Palio 1.9D, because of the obvious, even though it seems to be a notch above the Indica.

To cut a long story short, I walked away after the test drive, not so happy. My father came away gleaming because it fit his budget and the salesman constantly said," Saab 15-20 kmpl pakka, between 65-85 km/hr in 5th gear"

Lets start with the pros:

The ride quality was good, took potholes with aplomb. Back seat ride was bordering on great, and good leg space too. Maybe that most of us have a stout frame, helps the issue. The seats are comfortable even though I do border on XXL. Good flab support, eh?

The engine sound intrusion was kept fairly low, due to good insulation. I have heard Indicas on the outside, and I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn't the same song on the inside.

I am not going to comment on handling because I haven't had an extensive test drive. And frankly anybody looking to buy this would probably never in his faintest nightmares think about what I think about doing with cars.

Now the cons:

The engine. Sure it does 15-20 kmpl between 65-85 in 5th gear. I don't doubt that one bit. But I would have thought it to be torquier. I was under the notion that diesels would produce more torque than their petrol siblings. Not the Indica. The Petrol produces more horsepower (75 vs 53.5) and more torque (110 vs 85 Nm).On a drive on the Western Express Highway, I was under the impression that I wouldn't have to constantly shift gears, instant torque on tap. But I was wrong. I had to downshift everytime I wanted to overtake in any of the gears, and I never got to 5th. Close to 4000 rpm the torque just dies off. And this is very it really pisses you off. The gearshift seems to be made out of rubber (not eraser), and is stuck in a pot of goo. For somebody who enjoys going through the gears, this is your capital punishment. I constantly mis-shifted, not only did I miss overtaking opportunities, it also hurt my ego.

The interiors. My second biggest gripe. This has got to be the worst interior quality in any car ever. I test drove a brand new car, due to be delivered to some poor sod, and it was falling apart. The steering position is all wrong, and so is the pedal position. I don't expect adjustable pedals, but steering to be adjustable for atleast rake, if not reach. Though I don't think any of the B-segmenters offer this, so I'll spare the Indica this time.
The dashboard is just pathetic. It's a dreary grey coloured dashboard, and the quality of plastics is something I can't even start to comment on without breaking the rules of the boards. The knobs never had a reassuring click to them, whenever they hit the slot. The A/C switch almost got stuck in the ON position, my fit of anger got it unstuck though. The little convinience tray, with their coin holder is so flimsy, it puts the chiller trays of 20-yr old refrigerators to shame. I bet it was just waiting to pop off, obviously because it wouldn't stay shut in the first place, maybe because Tata expects you to have enough change left over from daily running to constantly keep filling the coin holder up.
I did manage to get the tray shut eventually, after a few more fits. So I then got on to explore the glovebox, wasn't bad, enough storage, hell I don't have to live in there, but still flimsy. So with a prayer I shut the glovebox, hoping it would stay that way, and...it did. But LO!!!!!!! The tray undid itself. By this time I was probably working my way to a heart attack.
The only part of the interior that I do like, is the dials. Maybe because they were made by VDO. They also make them for Porsche. I couldn't help being biased.
Now interiors don't always need to accentuate their appearance by brushed aluminium, or fake wood on them. The Octavia's interiors do just fine with black plastic and they ooze quality. I like the Palio's interiors too, they do have a sort of solid feel to them, atleast compared to the Indica.
The exteriors too are extrememly tacky. The doors close with a loud thud, well because they are heavy, and probably haven't learnt to cut weight yet. They offer sense of security while opening doors too, but that's just inertia.
Don't get me wrong, i don't doubt Indica's safety features, I've seen people walk out of some ridiculous accidents with minor scrapes. They cheap chrome patti on the hood, the tacky flared fenders, huge panel gaps (well all Indian manufacturers do it, so I'm not going to single out Tata), everything irked me.


My only question, is how far do you really have to go for cutting costs. Now at 4.2 lakhs on-road Mumbai, the Indica V2 DLS is by no means a cheap car.
Now if at that price, Tata would offer us a Common Rail tech engine, I would probably forgive them for all the cheap stuff that they have used, but for an IDI non-turbocharged engine, I have no mercy. I bet Tata Motors is laughing their way to the bank, with the sort of 'More money per car' that they seem to be making. Add to that the fact that there is no competition as of now. I mean, the Indicabs, and the DLEs and the DLSs and the DLXs all have the same quality interiors, and the Indicabs are ridiculously cheap.
Maybe they are just catering to the Indian mindset, they want FE, Tata will give them FE and nothing else, and still charge them the same money.

Problem is, I will probably be stuck with one of those Refreshingly new Indica V2s for the next two years of my life, and probably run high blood pressure for the same duration. I would also feel happy that my father would be making quite a few savings on his trips. Maybe I should try to get my dad to buy the Santro eRLX. If with all the new tech it does 27 kmpl, my savings could effectively be the same. Sorry, this is just rabid ranting. Maybe it's the after-effect of trying to quit smoking.

Disclaimer: This post expresses views of the author only, and not public opinion.

Last edited by ported_head : 9th July 2005 at 23:21.
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Old 10th July 2005, 00:25   #2
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you are right about most parts
however for VFM TATA cars are relatively cheap & their passive costs are less compared to others
meaning
its FE is very good (you can get almost 15 in city with careful driving)
it give more safety than other manufacturers cars in same segment
more interior space than other cars in same segment
also their customer service is good
spares are cheap
don't forget thats its diesel which is selling like hot cakes (diesel being cheaper than petrol)

so if you consider the package it is VFM
just consider car then its sort of rip off
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Old 10th July 2005, 14:13   #3
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hmmm..... although i love the indica for the car that it is, it ain't exactly for the enthusiasts- but then, it's like your friendly neighbourhood watchman- the kind that goes about doing what was originally intended to be done, without any sign or glimpse of stress; but ask more, and you are pushing the yardstick a tad into the pole...

the thing is, the indica does exactly what was originally intended- give excellent fuel efficiency, give little or no headaches on maintenance and other crap, and get you from point a to b with reasonable comfort. ask more, and you are in for a royal ride.....

it is, after all, the people's car- sure, a ball bearing turbo,4-core intercooler, common rails, unit injectors, variable nozzle intakes, motec exhausts,strut braces, some tuned stabilizer rods, coilovers, twin cams, pro lifters and some rally-spec cam gear and other stuff- wouldn't hurt, at all; but asking all of these from a 4 lac diesel might be a tad too impractical....he..he....

but on a more serious note, the least tata could do is bring in the turbo/intercooled indica, earlier.... that would give some much needed "boost" to the hungry masses.....
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Old 10th July 2005, 14:35   #4
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There are three possible reasons for your outlook:

1.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ported_head
I usually have an enthusiastic, not so practical approach when it comes to cars.
So you shouldnt be testing an Indica - it is an unenthusiastic, practical car.

2.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ported_head
Add to that the fact that there is no competition as of now.
Correct. Some competition is required to push the Tata's model development calendar - they have some good stuff up their sleeves, but its taking a long time coming and the lack of competition is probably making them complacent.

3.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ported_head
Maybe it's the after-effect of trying to quit smoking.
I tend to agree, because the Indica's brief was never to cater to a road-ripper who is obviously swayed by big names on little things like the VDO on the dials. The Indica was meant to be a car for the average Indian with more than just a nuclear family to travel in comfort at a very low running cost. The Indica is also over-engineered to cope with the inevitable overloading that happens when relatives come visiting. The Indica was engineered to give you a comfortable (ambassador-like) ride. The Indica was built to accomodate people with generous proportions who would appreciate a door that opens wide enough for them to enter and exit without contorting themselves.

It was built for a purpose and it serves that purpose admirably well.
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Old 10th July 2005, 14:39   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid

I tend to agree, because the Indica's brief was never to cater to a road-ripper who is obviously swayed by big names on little things like the VDO on the dials. The Indica was meant to be a car for the average Indian with more than just a nuclear family to travel in comfort at a very low running cost. The Indica is also over-engineered to cope with the inevitable overloading that happens when relatives come visiting. The Indica was engineered to give you a comfortable (ambassador-like) ride. The Indica was built to accomodate people with generous proportions who would appreciate a door that opens wide enough for them to enter and exit without contorting themselves.
It was built for a purpose and it serves that purpose admirably well.
Absolutely agree with you on that. Its a P-E-R-F-E-C-T car for a middle class Indian who wants a cheap, big, fuel efficient vehicle and which is why it has no competition actually.
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Old 10th July 2005, 14:41   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by veyron1

it is, after all, the people's car- sure, a ball bearing turbo,4-core intercooler, common rails, unit injectors, variable nozzle intakes, motec exhausts,strut braces, some tuned stabilizer rods, coilovers, twin cams, pro lifters and some rally-spec cam gear and other stuff- wouldn't hurt, at all; but asking all of these from a 4 lac diesel might be a tad too impractical....he..he....
There, you missed the point completely. Which is why I started off saying that it's a controversial topic.

I applaud it for what it does. Does 15 kmpl in the city, and sure it was meant to do that. But not at that price.

An enthusiast does not only mean 0-60 times and how many G's it pulls in the corners. It's also about nitty-gritties like interior quality,and justifying the price.

Tata is having it's way because there is no competition, give it some, and I'm sure it can do the same for much cheaper. A diesel can be priced higher than a petrol sibling, if it does well at what it's supposed to. Be torquier, deliver good efficiency and keep it's NVH levels low.

Also people let them have their way, which is why Tata is happy selling the same interior quality for BPO cabs and personal transport. My biggest gripe is quality. I just feel it could be a lot better. Maybe, I'll wait till I can start my own company, and see if I can do better for same or cheaper.

Also the disclaimer is extremely important. It's just my rantings.
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Old 10th July 2005, 15:08   #7
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I wish they would learn to pare off the weight on that damn car,
Just that one move would improve the car by miles
It would inprove its pickup, the speed & the handling

I have driven a non PSteering indicar & man my old Amby was easier to turn.
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Old 10th July 2005, 15:27   #8
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@ported_head: ur point is absolutely correct. the indica is a very nice car, no doubt abt that. but the level of quality tata is providing with the car does not justify its price. a crdi powertrain would have done wonders to the car. but i guess tata follow, "if it aint broken dont fix it" policy, and we wont see any major updates to the car until a lil competetion breaks out.
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Old 10th July 2005, 15:53   #9
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Quote:
they have some good stuff up their sleeves, but its taking a long time coming and the lack of competition is probably making them complacent.
If you compare original indica, Indica v2 and new Indica V2, Tata has come a long way in inprovement in the car. They probably still are not upto the mark, but not that they very complacent going by this background.

Quote:
The Indica is also over-engineered to cope with the inevitable overloading that happens when relatives come visiting.
While I agree with rest of your points, I beg to differ her. There is difference between being over engineered and material being added wherever it breaks. Overengineering would be doing good strength analysis and then applying more factor of safety. The way Tata do is lot different. How can I say this? Because I have quite a few friends who have worked on Indica project.
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Old 10th July 2005, 17:58   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steeroid
So you shouldnt be testing an Indica - it is an unenthusiastic, practical car.

I tend to agree, because the Indica's brief was never to cater to a road-ripper who is obviously swayed by big names on little things like the VDO on the dials. The Indica was meant to be a car for the average Indian with more than just a nuclear family to travel in comfort at a very low running cost. The Indica is also over-engineered to cope with the inevitable overloading that happens when relatives come visiting. The Indica was engineered to give you a comfortable (ambassador-like) ride. The Indica was built to accomodate people with generous proportions who would appreciate a door that opens wide enough for them to enter and exit without contorting themselves.

It was built for a purpose and it serves that purpose admirably well.
does that mean that if a car is built for generous sized people , offering them comfortable ride and great FE while carrying the whole family - you should expect pathetic quality of materials used inside ? we are inside the car while we drive and the least we expect is some acceptable quality of interior materials. the interiors of a brand new car that Ported has described - would you take it , if you got 17 kmpl with great ride quality and good interior space ??

agreed there is no competition for TATA but that doesnt mean that they dont even try to improve !! so it boils down to the Indian attitude , indian hai aur sasta hai toh chalta hai !! and what do you say about the palio that comes with much better interiors than the indica but still is flogged for the interior quality ?? off course there are other things that the palio doesnt have going for it - better not get into that !

Quote:
Originally Posted by ported_head
Maybe they are just catering to the Indian mindset, they want FE, Tata will give them FE and nothing else, and still charge them the same money.
Spot on pal !! i have always harped on this fact but as you can read
Quote:
Originally Posted by stratos
Absolutely agree with you on that. Its a P-E-R-F-E-C-T car for a middle class Indian who wants a cheap, big, fuel efficient vehicle and which is why it has no competition actually.
............what should i say !
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Old 10th July 2005, 18:37   #11
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First, I'd like to express my admiration for the Tata Indica project. It takes some fortitude to bet your company's and family's name on something no one is backing, and come up smelling of roses. That's what Ratan Tata did.

Yes, the Indica is about the worst enthusiast's car I have ever driven. I could only single out the Scorpio as worse. But then, atleast that thing has grunt. I can't really comment on the interiors, because I didn't pay too much attention. But I've seen the first lot and the new V2s, and they've improved considerably.

The Indica's brief was, in Ratan Tata's words, "to seat five people, with the comfort of an Ambassador, at the cost of an M800". It fulfils that admirably.

It IS sad that the same trim levels are expected to do for the Indicabs, and the highest end versions as well. But if you're expecting different trim levels, forget it! Even Honda didn't give any different trims between the 1.3 Exi, and the VTEC. Except the faux aluminium finish, and a different (but equally bad) stereo.

The interiors suck alright. I don't know in terms of build quality, but in terms of design, they aren't too snazzy. But man, if Joe Hindustani could get 15kmpl in the city, from a diesel, and also get a big, safe, cheap car, he'd buy it, crappy interiors or otherwise. And he is!

@ported... IMHO, maybe you should try and convince your dad to wait for the TDi version. Or plump for an Indigo, if it's an option.
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Old 10th July 2005, 19:28   #12
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Quote:
An enthusiast does not only mean 0-60 times and how many G's it pulls in the corners. It's also about nitty-gritties like interior quality,and justifying the price.
I wouldn't completely agree to that. As an enthusiast, the things I look for in a car, are.

Power (Power to weight to be precise).
Engine refinement
Handling
Braking stability
Seating position
Gear shift quality
FE to a certain extent (the more FE it is, the more you get to enjoy it between fuel stops)

Things like ride comfort, back seat space and interior quality are usually overlooked.

Tough luck that you'l have to live with an Indica D for the next few years. Even if you can get hold of a good 2nd hand Accent crdi or Skoda Tdi, go for it while you still have a chance.

Shan2nu

Last edited by Shan2nu : 10th July 2005 at 22:05.
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Old 10th July 2005, 22:03   #13
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guys please help me similar situation.

Just cant help my sister decide whether to go for a EURO III Indica DLG or EURO III LGi or the Swift. The diesel is what she had chosen and kept an option of the LGi. I detested the diesel mainly for its NVH levels and read that buying a diesel would yeild savings only if u happen to be doing a minimum of 1500 to 1700 km per month but anything above 2500 kms would mean good savings in comparison to a petrolhead.

But the qulaity of the interiors, fit finish and to know every second indica is owned by a cab operator was something i could not accept, also read that the Dealers for Indica do not provide good service (correct me if i am wrong).

The ONLY plus point is that Tata spares are cheap.

This has left me with the option for the Swift (base model) which is priced on road in par with the LGi.

Guys please advise me on what wopuld be a good decesion.
Pls enlighten me if the EURO III Diesel really makes all that noise which i have read from many magazines.
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Old 10th July 2005, 22:41   #14
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I would agree to what v1p3r has to say.

My first Indica was out of me being amongst the first allotees and soft corner for an Indian manufacturer. I was lucky that the car did not give too many problems.

It takes ***** to put at stake future of the ailing Telco, putting a car on the road in record 1700 crores, getting 115000 fully paid bookings, killing reviews, dying sales and then a magical turn around which takes Telco not only into the green but puts it on the world map as well.

Now what does India need...a country where the first question a buyer asks is FE wants more space for the least cost, VFM is the most important aspect of the cars package. There are more than enough reasons for it to be a top seller.

Now coming to the car and its interiors, they can be termed as bland now, but when it was launched 6 years ago, this was not the case. All Mags praised the interior design and fresh look feel in the car.
- The sitting position is neither too high nor too low.
- You have a safe feeling in the car.
- Keep the revs high, it does not give you an adrenal rush but will never leave you trailing the pack. Obviously we would like to pick up a different car if we are heading for a drag.
- If you want some more enthu, pick up the petrol and it will put many a recognized names to shame.
- I generally shift down to overtake on the highway, but that's just to be on the safer side, else it can do it without the downshift to if you use your rev-counter well.

Personally I feel Tata's should do a makeover of the car in 2005 - 06 as has been pending for the Safari as well. Also I would be amongst the first to book the "Aria" if Tata's plan to launch it, even if it would be my 4th Tata vehicle in a row
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Old 10th July 2005, 23:56   #15
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I have no dearth of admiration for Tata Motors as a manufacturer. They also spotted a gap in the lineup of cars offered to the Indian buyer and took the opportunity and it worked out for them pretty well.

I really don't have a problem with the Tata Indica when it comes to Ride, and FE. It's reasonably decent at what it does too, and all would have been well, well if it was a lakh cheaper. It's not a cut price car, cheap car any more it's still edging on the price of a premium B-Segment car. The Tata Indica DLX is almost 4.6 lakhs on the road. Of course it comes with all the bells and whistles (no alloys or bigger tyres still), but you still get the interiors quality of a BPO cab, not acceptable.


Sure, criterias that define an enthusiastic approach are different for different people. My criteria is different for different cars. If I was in the market for a hot-hatch, it sure as hell wouldn't be FE. But interior quality is a major issue for me. Atleast when I'm going to be spending a lof of time in the car, the touch-feel of the plastic and the tactile feel of the switches is important. You have to see it to believe it, how flimsy the interiors of a Tata Indica really are.

I don't have the clue how the others got the idea, but, I never looked for the Indica to be a road ripper, if I buy one, it sure as hell won't do duty as one. I'm not sure yet what over-engineered means. I don't think the Tata Indica is over-engineered, not for this price at least. It just uses a lot of metal, and is heavy, if that's what you meant. Also from what I've seen, this is what a lot of people do.

They run a Tata Indica to the ground for 2 years or 50,000 kms, whichever comes first and then sell it. R
eason, their not mine, the car almost falls apart.

Last edited by ported_head : 11th July 2005 at 00:04.
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